Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Reports

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Acropora, Coral, Florida Keys, Monitoring


The 2011-2012 sampling of Acropora corals, other coral reef benthic invertebrates, and marine debris in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) is being undertaken as a spatially intensive effort to provide updated population distribution and abundance information. The particular focus of surveys in the Florida Keys, as well as in the U.S. Caribbean (Puerto Rico and the U.S.V.I.), concerns the habitat distribution, colony density, size, condition, and population abundance of Acropora corals. Surveys in the Florida Keys also include assessments of urchins, mollusks, anemones, corallimorpharians, and marine debris. These additional assessments are relatively fast and easy to perform. Annual surveys for Acropora corals began in 2006 in the Florida Keys in response to their listing on the Federal Endangered Species List, as well as the paucity of large-scale information on habitat distribution, abundance, and condition in the Florida Keys. Periodic surveys for Acropora corals as part of our long-term monitoring and assessment program date back to 1999. The purpose of this field protocol manual is to outline the Acropora sampling procedures used in the Florida Keys and to standardize survey methods for the Florida and U.S. Caribbean regional population assessments planned for 2012. A previous draft of this manual was prepared for Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary personnel in June 2011 to help guide the field sampling in 2011.

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Sampling methods for Acropora corals, other benthic coral reef organisms, and marine debris in the Florida Keys: Field protocol manual for 2011-2012 assessments